Two golds cap a great week for France on first day of boxing finals at European Games 2023
The first session of boxing finals at the European Games 2023 saw France continue its excellent run at the competition as flyweight (51kg) Bilal Bennama and light-welterweight (63.5kg) Sofiane Oumiha secured gold medals.
It capped a superb week for the French team which has secured seven qualification places for its home Olympic next year – the most of any country at the European Games.
Bilal Bennama has been in great form all week and, despite a brave effort from Turkey’s rising star Samet Gumus, the Frenchman used his clever movement and ring skills to earn a split decision victory and take gold.
At light-welterweight, three-time world champion, Sofiane Oumiha, used all his experience to gain the upper hand over Georgia’s Lasha Guruli. The Georgian started well but from the second round onwards, Oumiha enjoyed the better of the exchanges as he went on to secure a 4-1 split decision victory.
The first day of finals also saw two reigning Olympic champions serve notice that they will be a force to reckon with in Paris.
At lightweight (60kg), Ireland’s Kellie Harrington secured a unanimous win over Natalia Shadrina of Serbia to add to her ever expanding list of world and European titles.
Turkey’s Busenaz Surmeneli was in equally dominant form in the welterweight (66kg) final and won every round on-route to a unanimous victory over Belgium’s Oshin Derieuw. The Turk is now a two-time world champion and reigning Olympic gold medallist and will be a formidable force in Paris next year.
Joining Harrington and Surmeneli in Paris for her third Olympic Games will be Bulgaria’s Stanimira Petrova who showed all of her quality and technical skills in the bantamweight (54kg) final. The highly experienced Bulgarian was rarely troubled by Romania’s Lacramioara Perijoc and secured a unanimous victory to land her second European Games gold medal.
Another boxer to win their second European Games title was Ukraine’s Oleksandr Khyzhniak, who added to the middleweight gold he won in 2019 with victory in the light-heavyweight (80kg) division. The Ukrainian’s relentless style was too much for Croatia’s Gabrijel Veocic and resulted in the referee stepping-in to stop the contest in favour of Khzhniak in the second round.
The final bout of the days saw Ireland’s Jack Marley take on Italy’s Aziz Abbes Mouhiidine in the heavyweight (92kg) final. After Harrington’s earlier success Irish hopes were high for Marley however the Italian has won world and European medals in recent years and showed why he is regarded as one of the most dominant heavyweight’s on the continent as he boxed his way to a unanimous victory.
The finals of the women’s 50kg, 57kg, 75kg and the men’s 57kg, 71kg and 92kg+ will take place on Sunday 2 July 2023 from 1300 (CET).
All the action can be viewed live here – https://europeangames.tv/sports/boxing
The draw and all results at the European Games 2023 can be viewed at – https://results.european-games.org/EG2023/ENG/schedule/BOX/2023-06-24/all-event
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